Since this is now the most important story in the universe and Juan Williams has been christened the new Elian Gonzalez, I thought I’d should share my opinion on the drama.
I’m seldom very comfortable seeing anyone on the receiving end of one of these public cannings. But this struck me as an excessive response. Simply on the merits, Williams’ remarks seemed more ambiguous to me than some people have portrayed them. I’m not defending them. I’m saying it seems reasonable, or at least plausible, to read his remarks as conceding an impolitic but candid instinctive fear born of the threat of terrorism by Muslim radicals.But the remarks themselves seem less consequential than how tame they are compared to stuff I hear on cable TV basically every day. I’m in the business of keeping a reasonably close eye on what people are saying on cable TV about these sorts of things. And bigoted remarks about Muslims are so commonplace and accepted these days that Williams remarks seem pretty tame by comparison. So it made me wonder: this crossed the line? Maybe they were sick of him and this was an excuse to let him go. But if he was in good standing at NPR, it just doesn’t compute to me that firing was the logical response.
Having said all this, unlike speech and carrying fire arms, there’s no right to punditry. So it’s pretty hard for me to see this as some crying outrage or any need to make a federal case of it. Basically, I think my response is, who cares? To this end I also confess that my feelings are colored by the years of downward drift in my opinion of Juan Williams which, maybe like a couple decades ago, was pretty high. Put me down as agreeing with Michael Tomasky’s well-put verdict this morning. And since Williams seems more than happy to go “full wingnut”, as Duncan puts it, and go all in or whatever wasn’t already in with the Fox News nonsense brigade, there’s really no one to cheer for in this moron’s drama or even care about. Tempest in a Tea Party.